South Korea has no formal tax breaks or financial incentives targeted specifically at filmmakers, although foreign productions qualify for a refund of assorted value-added and sales taxes on in-country spending. Production incentives may be introduced as soon as 2007, however, based on negotiations taking place between the culture and economics ministries.
Meanwhile, Korea’s growing collection of film commissions boasts strong ties to city governments, allowing them to provide services and facilities that can result in significant cost savings. Park Kwang-su, director of the Busan Film Commission (Korea’s biggest), notes cities have been known to finance the construction of open sets or to invest directly in productions that are seen to boost tourism.
Korea’s strengths as a shooting location include its efficient film commissions, well-utilized by the booming local production sector; lean, professional film crews; and high-level digital and special effects delivered at competitive prices.
International co-productions budgeted under $3 million also qualify for two $210,000 (200 million won) grants given annually by the Korean Film Council.
- Busan Film Commission: Web: bfc.or.kr; Email: bfc@bfc. or.kr; Phone: +82 51 743 7531; Contact: Julie Kim.
- Seoul Film Commission: Web: seoulfc.or.kr; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: +82 2 777 7092; Contact: Dony Kim
- Korean Film Council: Web: kofic.or.kr/english; Email: email@example.com; Phone: +82 2 958 7596; Contact: Hyun-chang Jung.
Last November, Bollywood joined the growing list of Asian film industries adopting Korea as a shooting location. “Gangster: A Love Story in Korea,” by veteran Mahesh Bhatt, shot for a month in Seoul and surrounding areas, with assistance provided by the Seoul Film Commission.
“We secured shooting permissions for them with no location fees, helped with customs, housing, transportation — everything except visa issues,” says the SFC’s Dony Kim. Digital color correction was carried out in Seoul, and due to a ban on nighttime aerial shooting, the SFC provided source footage that was digitally scanned and incorporated into the film. After “Gangster’s” successful April release in India, several other Indian productions have made inquiries to the SFC.